Every time I teach or practice yoga, my goal is to open us to and energize us with the energy of Love. Yet, what is “Love”? While I didn’t realize it, for years I didn’t know. As a result, I couldn’t Love myself, was disconnected from my infant daughter and (then) wife, was addicted to porn, strove to be better than others rather than help them, and lived with in a low-level, but chronic, state of fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Years removed from that, I’m 100% convinced Terces Engelhart is spot on in observing, “There is ONLY Love, everything else is our resistance to it.” With that in mind, here’s the second of 2 blogs on 24 words I believe will help stoke the fires of Love within us.
If you’re interested, you can check out the first 12 words, and a little more intro material, here: https://gracenpeaceyoga.com/2019/09/20/love-in-24-words-part-1/
Before exploring the last 12 words I’ll note by “Love” I’m not talking about preferences (like my love for Star Wars), but the Divine, heavenly, nourishing, healing, and enlivening energy of Big Love. Also, this is not a definitive list, just the words that came to me. So, let’s get into it!
13. GIFT – It’s interesting to me how programed we are, at least in America, to see things in a transactional, give-to-get manner. Love is NOT transactional; it is an absolutely free and gratuitous gift! It’s a free flowing giving and receiving of good deeds, words, thoughts, and energies minus expectation of return, change, or approval. Big Love has no strings attached. A spirit that’s not only freeing, but also, in my experience, inspires and empowers one to joyously give more than she/he gets! It is like a snowball rolling down a mountain starting an avalanche of goodness.
14. GRACE – When Jesus was brutally executed on a cross, virtually everyone betrayed or wronged him. The leaders of his religion wanted him dead for breaking rules in the name of Love, the government acquiesced to killing him in the name of “peace”, and almost all his closest followers fled for fear of their lives, one of which arranged his capture, while another denied ever knowing him. I point this out because when I think of Love, like Gandhi, I look to Jesus, and regardless of whether you believe the Christ was literally resurrected or not, the beautiful story we have tells us upon Jesus’ return from the dead he didn’t take any vengeance, he didn’t call out any betrayals, and he didn’t go to war (like our many of our favorite action heroes in movies do). During his last breaths hanging on the cross he proclaimed forgiveness, and when he came back he declared peace. This is what Love does. As author/professor Richard Beck says, “Grace breaks with the violent past to open up the possibility of a new future, a future predicated on love rather than blood.” And I’d point out this medicinal flow of grace applies on all levels of life: Physical, relational, emotional, financial, spiritual, mental, communal, and beyond.
15. NAMES – Love not only believes the best of people, it declares them precious beyond measure and names the best potential in them, which helps bring to life and call forth that Truth within us! For instance, my wife tells me ALL the time how I’m the kindest, most compassionate, and loving person she knows. Regardless whether this is literally true or not, it brings greater loving-kindness out of me. When we see goodness in a person (including our selves), however small, and name it to him/her, it frequently has a magical ability to expand and draw out said amazingness.
16. PATIENT – Picture a parent patiently helping her/his kid learn how to crawl, walk, ride a bike, throw a ball, catch a ball, or repeat the alphabet. Love is in no rush, and allows people to blossom and become in their own time.
17. HOPEFUL – Love dreams. It pictures a better future, maybe even something that seems impossible today, and then puts in the work to bring the dream to fulfillment. Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Love lives this out, because it is both a visionary and a realist.
18. SACRIFICIAL – When we flow with the energy of Love we don’t take or harm life; we give it … even at cost to ourselves. Thriving and flourishing, what Love brings, isn’t an individual endeavor, it’s a communal affair. In football the offensive lineman sacrifice individual glory, fame, and health for the benefit of the team by blocking the defenders to protect and/or pave paths for their teammates. I point this out because individual sacrifice brings collective success, which the individual generally gets to participate in. When my wife Lisa, for example, gives her time and energy to make a scrumptious meal for the family, she also gets to reap the benefits of her kindness.
19. BENEFICIAL – Loving-Kindness nourishes, inspires, encourages, and reveals so we may become the best version of our selves. Love is a win-win. I put this after sacrificial because I see a close relationship between the two. Jesus, for instance, paid the ultimate price (death on a cross) to show us how immensely we’re adored by God, and free us from our fear of death and enslavement to selfish and self-centered energies. His big sacrifice gave us a great benefit … and resulted in His resurrection and ascension to be the Ruler of the Divine Realm of Love, which we can enter and participate in at any time.
20. LIGHT – Light enlivens and exposes. In the same way the sun’s rays bring nature to life and gets us out enjoying the great outdoors, Love’s “heat” energizes us to be more vibrantly alive! Simultaneously, like how we use a flashlight’s illumination to see and find things hidden in the dark, the light of Love exposes our insecurities, hurts, wrongs, anxieties, fears, judgments, and all the things we’d like to keep hidden (consciously or unconsciously) in the shadows of our self … so they may be healed and transformed!
21. VULNERABLE – To Love well is to have a heart that’s tender and wide open to being hurt by others and the troubles in the world. I’m not talking about being abused, discriminated against, etc., because it gives us the courage to stand, protest, and make healthy boundaries in the face of those. Love hurts, in that part of being human is to sometimes let others down, say unkind words, end relationships, and so on.
22. OPEN – Hand-in-hand with being vulnerable, this heavenly way of being in the world invites us to share, be authentic, listen well, ooze compassion, and hug lots. Love shares openly and cares abundantly!
23. INHERENT – When I teach yoga my goal is to use mindful breathing and moving to help drop us from our heads to our hearts, because I’ve found this awakens us to the Love that’s already within and without. It’s incredible how palpable this experience of big goodness often is! These occurrences fit well with my theology because I believe God is Love and we are made in the image of Divine, which means Love is at our centers.
24. INFINITE – There is NO end to Love. No place without it, no time it will stop, and no limit to its supply. While trusting this takes a leap of faith, I find the more others and I do, the more AMAZING life becomes!
What stood out to you that can aid you in your journey? What would you add? To close, I’ll leave us with some beautiful words from Thomas Keating (1923–2018):
We’re all like localized vibrations of the infinite goodness of God’s presence. So love is our very nature. Love is our first, middle, and last name. Love is all; not [love as] sentimentality, but love that is self-forgetful and free of self-interest.
This is also marvelously exemplified in Gandhi’s life and work. He never tried to win anything. He just tried to show love; and that’s what ahimsa really means. It’s not just a negative. Nonviolence doesn’t capture its meaning. It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.
If you enjoyed this you can sign up for email notifications of future blogs on the top right. Additionally, I have a Facebook page where I regularly post articles, blogs, quotes, meditations, etc. to encourage us to more Light and Love. Again, to the top right there’s a link for you to “Like” the page, as well as my Instagram account if you’re interested. ❤
Grace and peace,